Ruby and Sadie had been on an expedition. We were staying at the Residence Inn up in Gravenhurst because I was teaching down in Barrie the first of two Summer School courses. The girls mom, Marissa, is taking the classes this year because she's thinking of a change in career. So for the rest of the month we'll all be bunking up there a couple days each week. The kids love the opportunity to be there, the grounds are lovely, the hotel staff friendly and Gravenhurst really is a summer playground for kids. During their trip to the beach, Ruby collected some small shiny stones that fully captured her imagination.
When we pulled up to the beach, where their Dad had taken them in the afternoon, they were in full play. The girls ran excitedly to their mom, returning from school and waved to us beckoning us to join them on the sand.
I don't do sand.
I don't like sand.
So I just waved from the safety of the car. As we were pulling out, leaving them to get on with their play, Ruby called out, "I found some gems and a seashell!!" Her voice was full of excitement and enthusiasm. I called back that she could show us back at the hotel. "OK!!" was the response and the deal was set.
Later we looked at what she'd collected. She was carrying them all in her swimming mask and carefully pointed out the sea shell first and then, with her voice full of tremulous excitement, the beautiful gems that she had found. The 'gems' were stones that had been polished over time by waves, by sand and by sun. They gleamed in the light. They were beautiful, she clearly has an eye that sees what other people step over.
At breakfast she had brought one of the stones with her. Though it was now dry, it still had the feel of something polished and the look of something cherished. I looked at it with her and she pointed out a line of white that ran through the stone. An older fellow coming by with a plate full of breakfast asked, in a friendly manner, what held our interest. Ruby held the stone out to him saying, "I found a gem." He looked at it and told her that it was beautiful.
Then he switched his gaze to me and said, "One day she'll learn the difference between gems and rocks, eh?"
Funny how adults talk about children, in front of them, as if they aren't there, or as if they can't hear, or as if they can't understand. Well Ruby was there, did hear and completely understood. Ruby, now a five year old with a voice of her own, simply said, "What if I don't want to learn that?"
He laughed as if she had made a joke.
What made me really, really proud, was that she, most definitely, wasn't joking.